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Catholic Heroes… St. Veronica Giuliani

July 12, 2018 saints No Comments

By CAROLE BRESLIN

In July, the month of the Precious Blood, the Catholic Church remembers saints by the name of Veronica. On July 12, the memorial of Veronica (meaning “true image”), the saint from the first century who presented her veil to wipe the face of Jesus, is celebrated. Three days before that, on July 9, St. Veronica Giuliani is remembered.
Some saints become widely known because of their active lives founding religious orders, helping the poor, or traveling to foreign lands to evangelize, leaving behind a great deal of information. Others are mystics and have led lives of seclusion and the only way we know much about them is by the journals they wrote in obedience to their superiors, such as St. Therese of Lisieux and St. Veronica Giuliani. Fr. Gerolama Bastiarelli, St. Veronica’s spiritual director, had told the young nun to record her life and keep a journal.
This mystic, who received the stigmata, was born to Francesco and Benedetta Mancini on December 27, 1660 as the youngest of seven girls. She was born in Mercatello, which is about 50 miles east of Florence, and when baptized was given the name Ursula. Her mother, a devout woman, spent much time reading the lives of the saints and martyrs to her five daughters — two had died at a young age. This practice instilled in Ursula and her sisters a love of God and desire to serve Him faithfully — three of her sisters also became nuns.
Ursula showed signs of her heavenly gifts at a very young age. At the tender age of three she would carefully set aside part of her meal for the poor. As commonly done by other extraordinarily holy children, she would take off her own cloak to give it to some other child without proper clothing.
This heroic charity may have been motivated by a vision she had around this time. She wrote that when she was picking flowers in the garden, the Child Jesus appeared to her. “I am the true flower,” He said to her just before He disappeared. From that point onward, she sought heavenly things.
Then she lost a dear loved one when her mother died in 1667 — Veronica was only seven years old. Just before her mother died, she received the Viaticum and consecrated her five remaining daughters to the five wounds of Christ. Each one was consecrated to a special wound, with Ursula being consecrated to the wound in the side of Jesus. For the rest of her life, Ursula had a special devotion to the Sacred Wounds.
When Ursula received her First Holy Communion on February 2, 1670, she received another vision. In her own words, “going for the first time to Communion, it seemed to me at that act I felt outside myself…my heart was burning….I told [God], it is now time to take complete possession of me. I give myself only to You and it is only You I want.”
She said He seemed to reply, “You are Mine, and I am all yours.” This further strengthened her resolve to never marry and give herself totally to Christ. After this event she concluded that she had a vocation to the religious life — “I could not wait for the moment to marry God.”
After this she urged her acquaintances to join her in her sacrifices and charity, becoming assertive and controlling when they were reluctant to do so. Then when she was 16 years old she received a vision revealing to her what a cold heart she had. Her “acts of charity” lacked a “heart of charity,” since she gave as if she were helping inferior beings.
She later wrote of her prideful attitude when her father was promoted to be superintendent of finance for Piacenza. She was quite pleased with this improvement in their social status.
Soon her father told Ursula that she was of age for marriage, and he began to make plans for her to participate in Catholic youth activities. Knowing what he wanted, she begged her father to let her choose her own state in life. Thus in 1677 when she was 17 years old, Ursula entered the Capuchin Poor Clares Monastery in Città di Castello, Umbria, about 27 miles south of Mercatello.
In memory of our Lord’s Passion, she took the name Veronica. When the bishop had completed the ceremony of reception, he told the abbess, “I commend this new daughter to your special care, for she will one day be a great saint.”
On the day of her consecration she received more mystical experiences although she did not understand what type they were. She saw angels and saints before the Lord, who led her to what seemed like Paradise. She thought she also saw the Blessed Virgin Mary. When standing before the Lord, He said to Veronica, “Tell me what you want.”
For such a young woman, a newly consecrated virgin, she answered with great holiness and love that she wanted three things: “One, that I should live up to the state of life I had undertaken; the second, that I should never depart from His holy will,” and the third was that “He would always keep me on the Cross with Him.”
He replied to her and promised to grant them all, “I have chosen you for great things, but you will have to suffer much.” Soon the Blessed Virgin gave Veronica the name Veronica of Jesus and Mary on December 24, 1702 and then Virgin of the Divine Will, daughter and devotee of Mary, Most Holy.
She also received the stigmata and was removed from the monastery until the bishop determined it was real. She returned to the convent where she served as novice mistress for 34 years. When the Vatican lifted the ban on her holding office, she was elected mother abbess of the monastery in April 1716.
Sr. Veronica also had an intimate relationship with the Blessed Virgin Mary. When she became abbess, Veronica gave the keys to Mary as the real abbess, to which Mary answered, “I am the superior; you must accept my guidance in everything.” Mary also put out a fire destined to destroy the convent because of Veronica’s intercession.
From 1720 onward, Abbess Veronica began writing her diary in the second person, using the pronoun “you” when referring to herself. This indicated that the Blessed Virgin Mary was dictating the entries. Then on March 25, 1727, Mary instructed her to write “Fa Punto.” This meant “period” and thus put an end to the holy dictation.
For the last years of her life, the abbess enjoyed constant union with Christ, as she related: “When God gives His graces of union and transformation, these are the same as those enjoyed by the blessed souls in Heaven. They enjoy God in God: It is a continuous banquet of love.”
Abbess Veronica went to Holy Communion on June 6, 1727 and suffered a stroke, leading to her death 33 days later. She even asked permission from her confessor if she could die and giving her last sigh she said, “Love had let Himself be found.” She died on July 9, 1727. Her feast day is July 9.

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(Carole Breslin home-schooled her four daughters and served as treasurer of the Michigan Catholic Home Educators for eight years. For over ten years, she was national coordinator for the Marian Catechists, founded by Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ.)

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